Welcome to the 9th CX’s deck techs! For this article, we’ll be looking at the list that stole the spotlight before the 2015 NA Nationals tournament and cruised to an undefeated finish! This deck list and interview are brought to you by Danielle Wright. Special thanks to Felix for article prep.
Translations can be found on Heart of the Cards. If translations are unavailable for a given card, in-house translations will be used.
Now onto the list!
Cards – 50
Level 0 – 16
2 Rin, First Step (IMC/W41-T41)
4 Ranko, Not Being True to Herself (IMC/W41-T44)
2 Kanako Mimura (IMC/W41-041)
2 Riina Tada (IMC/W41-077)
3 Rin Shibuya (IMC/W41-078)
3 Anastasia, My First Star (IMC/W41-082)
Level 1 – 12
4 Minami Nitta (IMC/W41-079)
4 Ranko, Fallen Angel of Darkness (IMC/W41-085)
4 Ranko, Pure White Angel (IMC/W41-086)
Level 2 – 7
2 Minami, First Job (IMC/W41-T50)
3 Ranko, Becoming Someone She Wants to Become (IMC/W41-P04)
2 Ranko, My First Star (IMC/W41-T51)
Level 3 – 7
3 Hanako (IMC/W41-T55)
4 Ranko Kanzaki (IMC/W41-080)
CX – 8
4 -LEGNE- Sword of Hatred, Melody of Light (IMC/W41-110)
4 Everyone’s Leader (IMC/W41-112)
At level 0, we have 16 characters.
When Rin, First Step is put into the waiting room from the stage, Scry 1. (To scry 1, look at the top card of your deck. You may put that card on the bottom of your deck.) When this card attacks, reveal the top card of your deck, if it is a [Music] character, put it in your hand and discard a card.
Ranko, Not Being True to Herself is a vanilla character.
Kanako Mimura gives the character in your center slot +500 power and has a Brainstorm ability: pay 1 stock and rest it, reveal the top 4 cards of your deck, and for every CX revealed, Salvage 1 character.
Riina Tada gives the character in your center slot +1000 power on your opponent’s turn and has a Brainstorm ability: pay 1 stock and rest 2 characters, reveal the top 4 cards of your deck, and for every CX revealed, Tutor 1. (Search your deck for up to 1 character)
When you play Rin Shibuya, you may discard a card. If you do, look at up to the top 4 cards of your deck and choose 1 blue character among them to add to your hand. Put the rest in your waiting room.
Anastasia, My First Star gives all your other [Music] characters +500 power. When you use a startup ability choose 1 of your characters and it gains +500 power until end of turn.
At level 1 we have 12 characters.
Minami Nitta gains +1500 power until end of turn when you play a CX. This card has a CX combo with “Everyone’s Leader”: when this card reverses its opponent, you may look at up to the top 4 cards of your deck and choose 1 [Music] character among them and add it to your hand and discard the rest and choose 1 of your characters and it gains +2000 power until end of turn.
When you play Ranko, Fallen Angel of Darkness from the waiting room, if you have 2 or more other [Music] characters, this gains +2500 power until end of turn. At the start of your opponent’s draw step you may put this in the waiting room. If you do, you may put a “Ranko, Pure White Angel” from your waiting room in the slot this was in and it gains +2500 power until end of turn.
Ranko, Pure White Angel has a Change ability: at the start of your CX phase, you may put this in the waiting room. If you do, choose a “Ranko, Fallen Angel of Darkness” from your waiting room and put it in the slot this was in.
At level 2 we have 7 characters.
Minami, First Job is a vanilla 2/1 character counter. (+3000 power)
When you play Ranko, Becoming Someone She Wants to Become you may pay 1 and send it to memory. If you do choose a “Ranko, Pure White Angel” and a “Ranko, Fallen Angel of Darkness” from your waiting room and put them in separate slots on your stage.
Ranko, My First Star is a level support. When you play a CX, Scry 1 and choose 1 of your characters and it gains +500 power until end of turn.
At level 3, we have 4 characters and 3 events.
Hanako is an event counter. When you play it Heal 1 and choose 1 of your characters and it gains +2000 power until end of turn.
When you play Ranko Kanzaki you may Heal 1. It has a CX combo with “-LEGNE- Sword of Hatred, Melody of Light” : when this attacks, Mill 5 and Burn your opponent for the number of CX put in your waiting room by this effect.
How do we use this deck?
Danielle: This deck is all about hand fixing and using the tech to make sure that you are setup for the next level well before you reach it. At level 0, Rin Shibuya helps remove climaxes or high level cards from your hand with its on play ability – in a mono blue deck, unless you manage to mill the event backups or climaxes only, you are almost guaranteed to replace the card you discarded with something a little more useful, or something to clock or discard for another copy of the card.
Rin, First Step’s on attack top of deck check also allows for a little hand fixing, since if a music character is revealed, you add it to hand, and discard a card. There are two types of brainstorms in this deck also, one that allows you to search your deck, Riina Tada, and one that allows you to salvage from waiting room, Kanako Mimura. Using the Anastasia, My First Star in conjunction with a brainstorm can help give a needed power boost.
Generally, level 0 is used to do three things – get multiple copies of Minami Nitta in my hand, Ranko, Fallen Angel of Darkness in the waiting room, and fix any climax issues that I may have.
Level 1 is heavily dependent on using Minami’s climax combo to mill the deck and add cards to hand, and being able to change between the two angels to have a power presence on the field. This is really the main engine of the deck up to level 3.
At level 2, the Ranko PR allows me to maintain a field presence and a little bit of deck compression due to its ability. Beyond that the level assist helps give a power boost to the level 3 Ranko, since it top checks and also gives 500 power when a climax is played.
At level 3, drop a couple Ranko Kanzaki and the climax that combos with it, and hope you mill a couple climaxes to activate the burn ability. Use Hanako to heal damage away, and compress the deck a little bit if you refresh due to Ranko’s mill ability (good chance!).
What does the deck not do well?
Power at level 0 and level 1 is an issue. But since the game is mostly costless at that point, it builds a lot of stock to encore with.
Is it missing anything? (more on this later)
After playing the deck more, it definitely needs a back-up at level 1.
Most people run the red level 1 backup… think I probably should too!
What are some of the potential risks the list takes?
All the milling is a bit of a double edged sword. I’ve had times where either Rin Shibuya or Minami Nitta mill two or three climaxes out of my deck, but I still have a good chunk of deck left. But those cards are also very useful and integral to making the deck work.
Is there or are there specific key cards in the deck that make it work?
I keep saying them, but Rin Shibuya and Minami Nitta are both very important cards! The Minami can help clear your opponent’s field as well as add to your hand when the climax combo is played, so it is probably even more important to the deck working.
About the list: Is it conservative or greedy? What’s its overall power range? Is it easy or difficult to use? What would you say about its viability in the JP/EN metagames at large?
D: I’d say it’s pretty conservative. It doesn’t use a lot of stock until late game, and the deck is absolutely about using the tech to your advantage.
M: The numbers here are based on my assessment and as close as possible to Danielle’s descriptions. I think the deck is pretty safe in terms of what it gets to do every level; the only truly ‘greedy’ component I see is the level 3 CX combo.
Power Range: 3 – 7
D: It isn’t really strong – most of the low level game is fairly weak, but if the black angel to white angel change is accomplished, you do have a 1/0 7500 beater on the field (with assists hopefully!).
M: Straight power doesn’t always work these days, especially with the popularity of Burn effects. (Charlotte may have something to say about that, but still.) Now, that isn’t to say that this deck isn’t without its own power in Burn effects, but the effect does not tend to give a reliable shot for 2. More often than not, it’ll be a single point, and sometimes it’ll be 2. Being able to Heal both on offense and defense for a single stock though, is rare and nice.
D: I’d say it’s really easy to use – being mono color and mostly costless makes it really simple to pilot. The only difficult thing is knowing when or when not to use the mill cards.
JP Meta Viability:
D: It’s a strong deck, if only for its hand fixing and compression abilities. The level 0 and level 1 game can be very solid and mostly costless. This deck is lacking the game ending level 3(for blue, the level 3 Anastasia is a better finisher than the Ranko, and doesn’t require a climax), and if you recently refreshed and don’t have the change targets for the level 1 game, it lacks power. Due to the fact that most of the cards don’t salvage, but look at the cards on top of the deck instead, it gets around the anti-salvage game that most meta decks seem to play.
M: Personally, I have not really been a fan of the “Ranko cannon” effect which is starting to pop up on more cards these days. Milling away 5 cards is fine, but the ability will deal 1 damage more often than it will deal 2. The variability of the ability does let the deck have a range of plays, and if it can sculpt favorable refreshes, it can cancel a lot. It doesn’t have a lot of defensive abilities (compare to: Index [double heal], Charlotte [anti-burn], TLR [anti-opponent]), but the spirit of the deck is consistency. For a large event where anything goes, I would call the deck a real contender, but for a smaller one where more greedy or “crazy” decks can be expected, I might not use it.
Onto the interview!
How was your event overall?
D: It was a lot of fun. I’ve been to big tournaments for English, but this was the largest Japanese language event I have participated in. The day was really long, but everyone was pretty nice to play against or interact with. I do wish that there was a much more efficient pairing system.
What was a really lucky moment you had during the tournament?
D: In my last game, I drew a Ranko lvl 3, and a Hanako back-up. Those really saved me at the end with the healing abilities.
What was a really unlucky moment you had during the tournament?
D: There was one game I had four climaxes in my hand at turn 1 – that’s never good. Thankfully this deck is super efficient at getting those cards out of my hand, between ditching them via the ‘Rin Shibuya’ card, or simply playing them.
Did you have any incredible comebacks?
D: I can’t say that I did. For two of my games, I kind of just coasted, because my opponent’s decks did not want to run. The others went fairly smoothly, and I wasn’t in a terrible position.
How did the final match go for you?
D: It was a pretty intense final match, even though it was played as a more casual game – it was against To Love Ru. My opponent and I kept going back and forth on damage, and it was really coming down to who was able to stick the last bit of damage first. We had some pretty good climax blocks on both sides of the field. The level 3 counter, Hanako (which gives 2000 power to a battling character, heals, and then goes to memory) was the MVP of that match – I used it two turns in a row, and I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t used that card, I would have lost the match.
What did you play against?
D: Log Horizon, To Love Ru, Cinderella Girls, Kantai, Dog Days, and To Love Ru, in that order.
How did you prepare for the tournament?
D: Mostly a good chunk of playtesting when the set first came out. I also gave the deck a go at the Alabama regional, and only barely got knocked out of securing a spot due to strength of schedule. I knew the deck could perform after that.
Did you do anything special the day of the tournament?
D: Chugged a ton of dayquil – I was super sick the day of the LCQ! I barely had a voice, so I was more concerned about surviving the day versus any pre-tourney ritual.
Were there any last-minute changes you made to the deck prior to the event?
D: I changed out a level 2 card – I had the Nao Kamiya which gets +500 for each other music, and has character encore, and replaced it with the Ranko level 2 PR card. Probably not the best choice, but I didn’t end up staying in level 2 terribly long during any game.
Are there any cards you would consider replacing now?
D: I probably would be better off putting the red level 1 back up in over the level 2 Minami, as well as the level 2 anti-change backup. This deck is a bit more of a ‘characters I really like’ deck though, so I probably won’t be reasonable about it and keep things the way they are.
Why is Ranko best idol?
D: Well, first, she’s a cutie. I really enjoy the Gothic aesthetic she has going on, and her singing voice as well. Her personality also kind of resonates with me – she puts on this ‘chuuni’ act, but is really a sweetheart underneath it all. Also, did I mention she’s a cutie?
Any funny stories from the event?
D: Not really funny, but it was pretty amusing (and sweet) how concerned my opponents were when they realized I had no voice! One kept offering me cough drops during the match.
Any other shoutouts or things you would like to say?
D: I’d like to give a shoutout to the Illiana Weiss Schwarz group, and to the Indianapolis players in particular. The Illiana group has been the best source of information and learning, and the Indy group is my regular play group. I’d also like to give a shout out to my husband for being understanding and supportive during this regional season. He didn’t even bat an eye when I told him I was joining a couple of other players to go to Alabama just a few days before that trip happened!
Thanks again to Danielle for the list and the interview!
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